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The Evolution of the Writing Desk

Updated on September 22, 2010

Throughout history man has tried to find ways of better expressing himself. Spoken language, song, and art lead to the written word and modern civilization, as we know it. With the invention of the alphabet came a slew of would-be writers. With pen in hand and a thought in their brain (usually regarding God) scribes all over the world took to writing. The writing desk has been a part of human culture from the very beginning of the written word. Without it the works of Shakespeare may not have been penned, the Bible might not have moved millions, and this humble little essay might never have made its way onto the Internet.

Time has changed the way we humans write but it hasn’t changed the basic writing posture. To write comfortably you must be sitting down, your back straight, and your arms out before you. Today most of us rest our fingers on the keyboards of laptop computers but even before then we were grasping our pencils and pens to scratch meaningful symbols down on parchment. The writing desk has evolved to meet our need for a comfortable surface to write down our thoughts.

Here are four variations on the writing desk that show how it has changed (yet not changed) over time. Let’s start from the present day and move backwards in time, shall we?

Modern Writing Desks:

The modern writing desk is designed with the typist in mind. The invention of the typewriter forever changed the way we put words down on paper and it forever changed the writing desk. Typewriters eventually gave way to desktop computers and then to laptops but the way we sit and use them has remained relatively the same. Modern writing desks tend to have fewer drawers. They are more utilitarian because they can afford to be. You don’t need to store your pencils, pens, or papers anywhere because you aren’t using them. All you need is a flat space to rest your keyboard.

Contemporary Writing Desks:

Contemporary designs tend to resemble the older models of writing desks, before the advent of the typewriter. Dark colored woods and multiple compartments give the contemporary writing desk an old fashioned look but they are still designed to accommodate the computer user. You may look like a monk slaving away by candle light in the monastery while sitting at this desk but you will still be able to equip it with all of the modern technology available.


Antique Writing Desks:

Over the years the writing desk has seen many styles and designers. An antique writing desk can exemplify design elements from almost any era. They are rugged yet elegant but will often be difficult to adapt to the digital age. If you enjoy writing by hand you will enjoy using an antique writing desk.

For more information about these furniture pieces visit the Writing Desk Specialist.

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